Tag Archives: Composition in Photography

Why we use different lenses and why we move

Zoom with my Feet

Zoom with my feet

Why do we have so many lenses or zoom lenses? Why do we move or not move?

I’m often surprised when I hear photographers talk about lenses and well even more surprised when I read photography blog articles about lenses and what they think “does what” when it comes to lenses and why we may choose one focal length over another. After all can’t we just “Zoom with our feet”? So why do we even have more than one lens, cuz really what would be the point? So this is a small excerpt from a larger article I had in mind to write to show; “What Does What” and why we need more than one lens and even why we may not. Continue reading »

Composition Part Deux

Composition Part Deux

 
Hi everyone, sorry I’ve been away. Had a new magazine assignment and that kept me busy this week. Sorry to neglect you.
 
Seeing that I started the week with a quick hint on composition I thought I should end the week talking about composition again. This time with a more complete guide to it.
 
I think it’s important to go over basic photography lessons because what I find is that all too often when shooting HDR, the HDR becomes the most important part of the image and we throw everything else out the window and we loose some of the essence of what makes a great photo…a great photo. HDR does not make a great photo, it only allows us to capture the full dynamic range of a great photo. If we make it first and foremost, we may just have a perfectly exposed…bad photograph.
 
So let’s look at a few things to looks for in composition that can help us achieve a better photograph. Nothing is etched in stone as some may lead you to believe and if you break one rule you may actually have just fallen into another one without knowing it and if the end result is something visually pleasing and adds to the image and captures an audience, then do it.
 
One quick thought on Rules of composition. Nothing in composition was man made. Man only quantified why something was attractive or pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t like the rule of thirds was invented when the first man wrote it down, it was merely that he quantified why something looked better that occurs, quite naturally
 
 

A foreground subject

For me this is just something I find to be really important and I tend to stress it more than maybe other photographers do. But I have heard that when choosing photographs for magazines a lot of editors reject images because they lack a foreground subject. After all we have seen millions and millions of shots of a beautiful sunset, but all that may be of interest is the beautiful sunset itself, we didn’t do anything to add to that and make it a beautiful PHOTOGRAPH of a sunset.
 
So, always, in the right situation have a foreground subject. A start for the viewer, Here, look here, see this, then move on as you are carried to the background and the rest of my photograph.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rule of Thirds

I don’t think anything gets pounded into new photographers for composition than the rule of thirds. We naturally like to center things and people that just start taking photographs often do just that. But it may not be the most pleasing and visual interest to our photographs. Placing our subject at the intersection of Thirds of the scene add better visual interest and balance to our photographs. If you have a horizon line in your image, place that at a Third also from top to bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Mean or Ratio

Based on a mathematical formula that appears in nature (Fibonacci numbers) – think Nautilus shell here – Golden mean is another way to place object within our scene in a pleasing way.
 
I’ve demonstrated it here using both a Golden Spiral and also Golden Triangles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Leading Lines

We capture our viewers attention with our primary subject, then we use leading lines to draw the viewers eye farther into the image and our secondary subject. Leading the viewer to look where we intend
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But leading lines don’t have to be so hard and obvious 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symmetry

Sometimes symmetry just works, sometimes it can be boring. But with the right balance, again, it can bring interest to the work
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance and weighting

Even though it is obvious in the photo below that the cars behind our main subject are not the same scale as our subject, the weight of all those cars together equals the weight of our main subject
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Natural Framing

 
Use existing elements in the image to frame your subject. Again what we are trying to do is lead the viewer where we want. An image has just seconds to grab a viewers attention. We don’t want them to have to take too much time to find what we want them to find. They may just loose interest
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use Color and Brightness

Our eyes are drawn to certain colors, that’s why Fire Trucks are red. Certain colors make an object stick out, some make the object retreat. Use that to lead the viewer where you want. Also brightness  or contrast draws the eye. So make your subject the brightest part of the scene to draw the eye too it
 
When our subject is yellow, our eye goes immediately there
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But look what happens when we change that flower to a recessive color. The eye hunts for the subject
 
 
 
 

Mix up your orientation

Have you noticed something about a lot of my “Landscapes”?Tthey are shot in a vertical or “portrait” orientation. People assume that Landscapes are shot in Landscape orientation and portraits are shot in portrait orientation. The funny thing is my best friend is a great senior portrait shooter and we have always found we naturally go the other way. My hands when they go up to shoot naturally go for a vertical or portrait orientation, that’s the look I want most times. She on the other hand for her portraits will go for a landscape orientation. They just work for us. But it’s fun to mix things up even if you find it un-natural. Sometimes it just gives a different perspective on things

 

And then sometimes…I just don’t give crap about the rules at all and I just want something centered 

 
 Notice, I didn’t center the horizon though 😉
 
There is much to be learned about composition. But a lot of it depends upon how your mind works. Are you right brained (the so called artistic mind)? Or are you left brained (the analytical mind)? Right brained people tend to just see composition but not really know why. Left brained people, it will be more of a  thought out process but they may not see it naturally. Both may get there, they just do it differently. Well, that’s my opinion anyway.
 
Hope that helps a bit. Like I always like to stress it is STILL all about good photography, we are just using a different tool to realize our artistic vision. But don’t make HDR the star of the show if there is not a good stage below it.
 
Hope that helps
 
PT
 

Composition – What Brings Order to a Photograph

Composition  

Composition is one of the aspects of a photograph that makes it appear better to the eye. It’s a “Reason” not a “Rule as some may lead you to believe.  

 Nothing in composition was man made. Man only quantified why something was attractive or pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t like the rule of thirds was invented when the first man wrote it down, it was merely that he quantified why something looked better that occurs, quite naturally
 
So let’s look at a few things to looks for in composition that can help us achieve a better photograph. Nothing is etched in stone as some may lead you to believe and if you break one rule you may actually have just fallen into another one without knowing it and if the end result is something visually pleasing and adds to the image and captures an audience, then do it.